“Ten young women have been strangled in Quebec in the last three years – Is there one or several killers?”
Forget about everything you know that came after. For now, it’s February 1970, and this is the tag line presented at the beginning of that month in Allo Police:
“Are there truly in the streets of Montreal and its region, one of these monster murderers, or one of these sexual maniacs we know and have seen in the pages of books and in movies who violate their victims, their prey of choice being young girls at the flower of their youth?
The following are eight young girls, murdered by strangulation with the murderer still being sought:
- Celine Gagnon, age 22, December 28, 1966 in Quebec.
- Norma Vaillancourt, age 21, July 23, 1968 in Montreal.
- Claudia Beauvais, age 22, July 8, 1969 in Verdun.
- Teresa Martin, age 14, September 13, 1969 in Montreal.
- Shirley Audette, age 20, October 3, 1969 in Montreal.
- Marielle Archambault, age 20, November 26, 1969 in Montreal.
- Linda Silverman, age 15, January 4, 1970 in Piedmont.
- Jean Way, age 24, January 17, 1970 in Montreal.
Of the eight cases of young woman strangled, four do not appear connected, but the other four appear to be of the same origin. From this was born the theory of the existence of several stranglers for the first cases, and the possibility of one true maniac-strangler of the kind the city of Boston knew a few years ago for the other four.”
Allo Police then provides profiles of the eight cases, beginning with the four cases they believe are not connected. A summary:
She lived in a basement apartment with several friends at 53 rue des Epinettes in the Limoilou quarter of Quebec City. She worked as a secretary at at a hospital in the city. She was attacked on her way home from worked around 5;15 pm, the evening of December 28, 1966 . When she screamed her assailant stabbed her in the face then proceeded to strangle and rape her. When police found the body, her clothing had been strewn about the crime scene. Robbery was not the motive as her purse was found nearby and the money was untouched. Her body appeared staged, as though it was placed carefully in the snow.
Claudia Beauvais was a 22-year-old First Nations woman from the Caughnawaga ( Kahnawake ) reserve on the south shore of Montreal. The paper describes her as having the “mental state of a 4 to 5-year-old-child”, she was interned at the Douglas Memorial Psychiatric Institute in Verdun since 1965. She received treatment, but was not confined to a room or ward, free to roam outside the institution and to visit her parents on weekends. On the evening of July 3, 1969, Claudia went to see a movie screened at the Douglas campus but did not return to her room. On July 8th her mutilated body was found hidden in some bushes. Allo Police states, “it was evident a veritable human monster was responsible as the butchery was indescribable.” Allo Police then goes on to describe the butchery – I will not describe it. The article goes on to describe how police did not suspect on of the other 2,000 patients at the Douglas Institute, the premises were searched and no blood or evidence was found within the residences. Suspicions were cast on a visitor, or possibly an out-patient.
What’s said ( or not said ) about Martin five months after her murder is informative. She appeared much older than her 14-years, but she lived with her parents, and had regular habits. She attended the convent, Regina Sancta, where she was a “brilliant student”. On the evening of her death she received permission to go to the movies at Galeries d’Anjou – again Allo Police stresses to see the film “Jeux pervers”. She took the number 41 bus home around 11 pm. Approximately four hours later her body was found in the parking lot of the Vieux Cypres taverne on Henri Bourassa approximately a mile from her home. She was seated against the wall pf the taverne, in bare feet without shoes, and the autopsy revealed she had been asphyxiated. Her clothing was not disheveled. She probably died when her assailant placed his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming. Allo Police states she was “definitely not raped” – and here we get some new information – and she was possibly killed for “some revenge”. Finally they point out the mysterious tattoo on her abdomen, “F.V. Frenchy I Love You”, and that this was made after her death. Finally there were no traces of drugs or alcohol in her system, and police were still searching for her assassin.
15-year old Linda Silverman was found murdered January 4, 1970 in the Piedmont / Laurentian region north of Montreal. Silverman was from an affluent family – her father was the psychiatrist, Doctor Marvin Silverman – and lived in Ottawa. She was found dead in a snowbank. The body showed no sign of violence, no rape, except she had been strangled from the cord on her ski jacket. Linda had been with a friend, Kareen Eidinger spending the weekend skiing near Sainte-Agathe and Saint-Sauveur, just north of Saint Jerome.
The Silverman murder reminds me a little bit of the death of Suzanne Yelle, found July 14, 1984 on the side of the road in Mont-Tremblant. She had been out drinking the night before in the Saint Jovite area.
Allo Police next presents four cases in their opinion are connected:
Norma Vaillancourt was found naked on the bed of her Davidson street apartment in Montreal on July 23, 1968. The 21-year-old student had been sexually assaulted, police suspected her assailant knew her as there had been no forced entry into the apartment. Her assailant removed the sheets and pillowcases from the apartment, and washed the dead victim’s body before leaving.
Audette was found 15 months later, October 3, 1969 strangled in a backyard near her Dorchester Blvd. apartment in Montreal. The 20-year-old was a former patient of the Douglas Memorial Psychiatric Institute in Verdun. Like with Norma Vaillancourt, police initially believed Audette died by accident or suicide. Like Vailancourt, she had been raped and strangled. Audette had bite marks on her breasts. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Ehlert noted that prior to her murder, Audette had been nervous and unable to sleep. When in this state, it was Audette’s habit to sit outside of her apartment building.
Less than two months later, November 26, 1969, 20-year-old Marielle Archambault was found dead on the couch of her apartment on Ontario avenue in Montreal. Again, police believed she had died of natural causes or had committed suicide. Again, the autopsy indicated Archambault had been raped and strangled. Again, there were bit marks on her breasts. Archambault worked at a jewelry store in Place Ville Marie. On the day of her murder she was observed in the jewelry store with a sauve young man who she introduced as “Bill”. The two left together from the jewelry store at the end of Archambault’s shift.
24-year-old Jean Way, age 24, shared an apartment with a friend on Lincoln street in Montreal. Both young women worked at the Royal Victoria hospital. On January 16, 1970 her boyfriend, Brian Caulfield found Way strangled on her bed. She had been sexually assaulted, but there no signs of mutilation. Authorities believed her assailant was interrupted when earlier in the evening her boyfriend showed up for a planned date, but received no response when he knocked at the door.
By the time of the Jean Way murder, the city descended into a state of mayhem pondering the possibility of “The Montreal Strangler”. Then quite suddenly, the strangulation murders stopped. What we know now – and most of you have already guessed – is that the finally three murders – Audette, Archambault and Way – were the work of the serial killer, Wayne Boden who by February had fled Montreal and would commit one final murder in Calgary – the strangulation of high school teacher, Elizabeth Anne Porteous – before his apprehension. Allo Police tried to assure their readership that the Montreal Strangler did not exist, but “The Murderous Sadist truly existed”.
Celine Gagnon, age 22, December 28, 1966 in Quebec City : In 1972 a young man from Sept-Iles walked into a police station and declared himself the murderer of Celine Gagnon. Because he was a juvenile offender at the time of the murder, a judge sentenced him to 23 months in prison. The Gagnon family took a civil action to court demanding reimbursements totaling $21,072.14 to cover funeral expenses for their daughter, but were denied restitution.
Norma Vaillancourt, age 21, July 23, 1968 in Montreal: Because of the similar m.o. – found naked in her apartment – Wayne Boden was initially believed to have murdered Norma Vaillancourt. In 1994, Raymond Sauve was convicted of Vaillancourt’s death and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Claudia Beauvais, age 22, July 8, 1969 in Verdun: Beauvais was from the Kahnawake native reserve. Because she was First Nations, her case generated little media attention. Initially a 34-year-old taxi driver from Toronto was held for questioning, when he was found lurking near the wooded area where Beauvais was found. Later a 35-year-old Montrealer became a suspect. By mid-July, police gave a statement, “The condition of the victim’s body leads us to believe we are dealing with a mentally-deranged person who may strike again.” In 1973 attention turned to an offender named William “Bill” Market (also known as Bill Mason and Bill Reid), suspected of killing three women since 1969. Market went to trial for the 1973 stabbing death of Christine Harding in her St. Antoine street apartment. Harding had been a patient at the Douglas Memorial Psychiatric Institute in Verdun. Market was originally from Verdun, and suspected of the death of Beauvais and was set to stand trial also for her murder, but the Crown ultimately withdraw the charge. Claudia Beauvais murder remains unsolved.
Teresa Martin, age 14, September 13, 1069 in Montreal: for an update on this case please listen to future podcasts.
Shirley Audette, age 20, October 3, 1969 in Montreal: Wayne Boden confessed to the murders of Shirley Audette, Marielle Archambault, and Jean Way, and was sentenced to three life terms.
Marielle Archambault, age 20, November 26, 1969 in Montreal: Wayne Boden confessed to the murders of Shirley Audette, Marielle Archambault, and Jean Way, and was sentenced to three life terms.
Jean Way, age 24, January 17, 1970 in Montreal: Wayne Boden confessed to the murders of Shirley Audette, Marielle Archambault, and Jean Way, and was sentenced to three life terms.
Linda Silverman, age 15, January 4, 1970 in Piedmont: Silverman came from a very prominent Ottawa family. Accordingly, her murder received front page coverage in he Canadian media. By the summer of 1970, the Quebec department of Justice was offering a $5,000 reward for information on the case. Near the one-year anniversary a coroner’s inquest was ordered. Despite a medical expert testifying that Silverman was effectively hanged, police were now operating on a theory that the 15-year-old girl may have died accidentally. By January 12, 1971 the inquest was shuttered with the head lawyer stating, “The inquest will reopen only when I feel a new piece of testimony will shed light on the case.” The inquest was never reopened. Linda Silverman’s death remains unsolved.
When Wayne Boden was finally arrested in 1971, Quebec police immediately took credit for Calgary’s efforts. Montreal police homicide cop, Guy Gaudreau stated the strangulation murders were, “one of the toughest cases we’ve ever had to solve.” The lack of humility and perspective is ear-ringing. Boden was only collared for the Montreal murders when an observant Calgary journalist tipped Montreal police that the murder of Elizabeth Anne Porteous looked a lot like Montreal’s “vampire killer”. Montreal police spent hundreds of hours searching for the man named “Bill” who they believed was their killer. They even produced a mysterious photo of their alleged suspect who ultimately turned out to be one of the victim’s fathers. Once in custody, Boden immediately and freely admitted to the murders of the three Montreal women. Montreal police’s ‘toughest case to solve’ was essentially handed to them on a silver platter.
For more information, listen to the podcast.